Yay!!! Another food post. I’m making the biggest mistake in writing this hungry….let’s see how long I last writing this without breaking for an early dinner. I’m here in Greece for the next month and a half and if you haven’t been here yet LET ME TELL YOU that the food is incredible. Whether you’re a vegetarian or full out meat eater you’ll definitely find something absolutely delicious here in this picturesque country. One main characteristic of the cuisine here in Greece is that it’s so healthy! Every plate seems to pile on the fresh veggies, minimal sauces, and the meat is usually always grilled not fried. That’s good news for us vacationers who plan on donning swimwear touring the Greek islands. Without further ado let me introduce you to some of my favorite Greek treats!
Greek salad (4-7 euros)
Starting off with some veggies I don’t think you can get much fresher than a Greek salad. These salads usually only consist of tomatoes, cucumber, white onion, kalamata olives, oregano, and feta. It’s so refreshing on a hot summer day when you don’t feel like having anything cooked. Pair it with some fresh baked pita bread and you’ve got yourself a perfect balanced meal.
Souvlaki and Gyros (1,50-3 euros)
These two dishes are probably the most popular and well-known here in Greece. They are grilled meat usually chicken, pork or lamb served with tomatoes, onions, cilantro, french fries, and some type of sauce. I’ve had one with tzitizki; a cucumber/dill based yogurt sauce, and an alioli; a garlicky mayo sauce. Restaurants will either serve these up in pitas as sandwiches or straight on the stick with the accompaniments on the side. So far (even though I am trying to cut meat from my diet) these two are my favorite dishes here and I’m sure you’ll try them.
Moussaka (5-9 euros)
This is probably one of the most scrumptious looking dishes that I’ve found here. It consists of eggplant, minced meat with onions, tomato sauce, garlic, topped with bechamel sauce all baked together. It sort of looks like lasagna and it’s very traditional in this part of the world. The name comes from Arabic origin and it is eaten everywhere from Egypt to Romania.
Gemista (2-5 euros)
Starring vegetables once again, this dish is sure to make you still feel light after eating it and it’s fun to make! Shout out to Nikkos, the brother of one of the guys I Couchsurfed with for teaching me how to whip this one up. I’ll probably omit the meat next time but you too can make this by sauteing onions and garlic then adding minced meat, the insides of the scooped out tomatoes and peppers and then adding rice. Fill the hollowed out vegetables with the mix and bake until golden and bubbly. My mom used to make a dish like this when I lived at home so it reminded me so much of my childhood. I found this awesome vegetarian recipe and I think you should try it too!
Spanakopita (1,20-2 euros)
Can I change my mind and say that this one is my favorite?? Basically all this snack consists of is phyllo dough, spinach, and sometimes feta and it’s amaaaaaazing. I’ve noticed that people (definitely myself included) eat this anytime of day. Spanakopita is eaten for breakfast and as a snack throughout the day. You can find this at any bakery/coffee shop around Athens and even though you might not like this green vegetable you should give this one a try! Plus you’re getting a super healthy vegetable in your diet…even though it comes with a bunch of cheese. Still counts right?
Tiropita (1,20-2 euros)
Another quick snack when you’re on the run here in Greece is their cheese pie. Using ….cheese, they use a good portion to fill a type a dough and bake it. Just like with the Spanakopita people eat this as a snack or alongside their morning coffee. The first time I tried it I compared it to a Ritz bits cracker with cheese and I was totally mind-blown. Try it and tell me you don’t agree.
Greek coffee/frappes/freddo (1-4 euros)
Speaking of coffee; if you like the dark beverage you will LOVE Greece. There’s a saying that goes “in France they do wine, in Greece we do coffee.” The cup of espresso is super thick and when you finish your cup you’ll notice all of the gritty bits on the bottom. I think that’s so you can make out the shapes on the bottom like in Harry Potter and find your fortune (only about 5% true). Now I don’t really understand the difference between the two but I’m OBSESSED with them and how to make them that I pretty much make one every other hour. Another shout out Konstantinos for supplying all the necessary tools and ingredients for my obsession ((insert praying hands here)). Here is a link to a video I found demonstrating how to make one. Just go ahead and thank me in the comments below.
Saganaki (3-5 euros)
Coming from the Midwest in the USofA I can really appreciate fried cheese. <<Literally as I typed that my mouth started watering>> I mean we invented it….right? It’s hard to beat Minnesota cheese curds but these Greeks have something similar down. Saganaki is a piece of sheep cheese, about the size of two decks of cards side by side, that’s pan fried. When eaten with bread it’s phenomenal and I could probably eat one all to myself #cheeseforlife. If you have an ice cold Mythos beer with it you’ll probably think you’ve gone to the Olympian heaven to talk about it with Zeus himself.
Dolmades (3-6 euros)
Wait, maybe these are my favorites…. Dolmades I have had many many times in the past. I have a really close friend who has family from Syria and Turkey and her mom makes KILLER dolmades. You can find these literally all over the middle east and Greece has their own special spin on them. Usually this dish consists of rice, spices, lemon juice, and minced meat all cooked together then wrapped up in a grape leaf before being steamed. I’ve had some without meat so this is perfect for vegetarians and vegans and they are so good. Here in Greece they top them with a white cream sauce which makes them even more incredible and I want to fill my backpack with the tins of them that they sell in stores. That’s legal right?
Sweet pastries (1-3 euros)
Last but not least we finish our list of insanely delicious foods in Greece with something sweet. I think they use phyllo dough all over the middle east and it’s very prominent here too. Using phyllo dough, bakeries and pastry chefs here fill it with sweet cream cheese, honey, pistachios, nuts, cinnamon, etc.. and create something spectacular. I’m sure everyone has tried baklava before but it’s a VERY sweet and sticky treat of honey, pistachios, and layers of the thin crispy dough but you should also try Kalitsounia. It is basically the same concept except they fill the dough with a sweet cream cheese and sprinkle cinnamon and powdered sugar on top. This was the first thing I tried here in Athens and it was ridiculous.
That is basically all I have tried so far here in Greece and if you know of another dish that I should try that’s native to this area and country let me know in the comments below. You all know that I’ll try just about anything.
Happy travels and hasta luego!